Newstalgia Reference Room - Bernard Baruch - The Quick And The Dead - 1946

(Bernard Baruch - also coined the term "Cold War") [media id=17874] When President Truman appointed Industrialist and financial adviser Bernard Ba

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(Bernard Baruch - also coined the term "Cold War")


When President Truman appointed Industrialist and financial adviser Bernard Baruch to represent the U.S. at the first United Nations Conference on Atomic Energy in 1946, it raised a few eyebrows.

Baruch had advised Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt (FDR) on the financial well-being of the country, but many felt he had no business advising the world on the state of Nuclear Energy, for either making war or peace. He had been instrumental in implementing many of the wartime austerity measures adopted during the War, and early on was a member of the celebrated "Brain Trust" during the formative days of the New Deal.

But Atomic Energy? Maybe some of it had to do with Baruch having been around the block a few times (he was born in 1870), knew the utter devastation world wars like the First and Second were capable of, and knew this new weapon would pale those wars by comparison. Or he saw Atomic Energy as a potential good thing and, as someone who spent his life making money, knew a good thing when he saw it.

But I tend to doubt the later and would like to believe the former. Baruch was deeply involved in the welfare and common good of the people. He never sought public office but rather stayed on the sidelines and advised from the point of view of experience.

And perhaps it was this experience that led Truman to appoint him to the UNAEC. In any event, he delivered his famous "The Quick and The Dead" address to the first meeting of the Commission on June 14, 1946. He laid out what became known as The Baruch Plan for the elimination of nuclear weapons after implementation of a system of international inspections and controls and punishment for violators. The Soviet Union strenuously objected.

Bernard Baruch: “We are here to make a choice, between the quick and the dead.”

Those ominous opening lines reflected the general fear brought about by this new weapon. The fear would only grow over the coming years.

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